Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani
With respect to Muhammad, he is Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Farqad ash-Shaybani - with an ascription through the relationship of wala' (being a mawla) to Shayban, the well known tribe. He was Kufan and a companion of Imam Abu Hanifah. He was originally from Damascus, from a small town called Harsata. His father came to Iraq and Muhammad was born to him in Wasit, and grew up in Kufa. He was a pupil of Abu Hanifah and heard hadith from Mis'ar ibn Kidam, Sufyan ath-Thawri, 'Amr ibn Dinar, Malik ibn Maghul, Imam Malik ibn Anas, al-Awza'i, Rabi'ah ibn Salih, Bakir and Qadi Abu Yusuf. He resided in Baghdad and narrated hadith there. Imam ash-Shafi'i Muhammad ibn Idris narrated from him, as did Abu Sulayman Musa ibn Sulayman al-Juzajani, Hisham ibn 'Ubaydullah ar-Razi, Abu 'Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam, 'Ali ibn Muslim at-Tusi, Abu Hafs al-Kabir and Khalf ibn Ayyub. Ar-Rashid appointed him to of the post of qadi in ar-Riqqah where he compiled a book called ar-Riqqiyyat, and then he discharged him and he came to Baghdad. When Harun ar-Rashid went to Ray the first time, he told him to come with him and he died in Ray in 189 AH.
It is narrated that he said, "My father died and left thirty thousand dirhams, and I spent fifteen thousand on grammar and poetry and fifteen thousand on hadith and fiqh." Ash-Shafi'i said, "I have not known a plump person lighter of spirit than Muhammad ibn al-Hasan. I have not seen anyone more eloquent than him. I used to think when I saw him reciting the Qur'an that it was as if the Qur'an had been revealed in his language." He also said, "I have not seen anyone more intelligent that Muhammad ibn al-Hasan." It is narrated of him that a man asked him a question which he answered. The man said to him, "The fuqaha disagree with you." Ash-Shafi'i said to him, "Have you ever seen a faqih? By Allah! not unless you have seen Muhammad ibn al-Hasan!" A man stood up before al-Mazani and asked him about the people of Iraq saying, "What do you say about Abu Hanifah?" He answered, "Their chief." He asked, "Abu Yusuf?" He answered, "The one who most follows the hadith." He asked, "Muhammad ibn al-Hasan?" He answered, "The one who derives the most rulings." He asked, "Zufar?" He answered, "The one who is sharpest in analogical reasoning." It is narrated that ash-Shafi'i said, "I never reasoned in argument with anyone but that the colour of his face changed, except for Muhammad ibn al-Hasan.
If their language were not known we would judge that they were angels: Muhammad in fiqh, al-Kisa'i in grammar, al-Asma'i in his poetry." It is narrated that Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, "If in any matter there is agreement between three people, then one pays no attention to the verdict of anyone who disagrees with them." Someone asked him, "Who are they?" He answered, "Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan. Abu Hanifah is the one with the most insight with respect to analogical reasoning. Abu Yusuf is the one with the most insight with respect to the traditions. Muhammad is the one with the most insight with respect to Arabic." As-Sam'ani narrated all of this in the Kitab al-Ansab.
Abu 'Abdullah adh-Dhahabi said in Mizan al-IĆtidal:
"Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani Abu 'Abdullah is one of the fuqaha whom an-Nasa'i and others regarded as weak with respect to his memory. He narrated from Malik ibn Anas and others, and he was one of the great oceans of knowledge and fiqh, and he was strong [when he narrated] from Malik."
Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said in Lisan al-Mizan,
"He is Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Farqad ash-Shaybani, by wala'. He was born in Wasit and grew up in Kufa. He learnt fiqh from Abu Hanifah and hadith from ath-Thawri, Mis'ar, 'Umar ibn Dharr, Malik ibn Maghul, al-Awza'i, Malik ibn Anas, Rabi'ah ibn Salih and a whole group of people. Those who narrated from him were ash-Shafi'i, Abu Sulayman al-Juzajani, Hisham ar-Razi, 'Ali ibn Muslim at-Tusi and others. He was appointed qadi in the days of ar-Rashid. Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam said, 'I heard ash-Shafi'i saying, 'Muhammad said, "I stood at Malik's door for three years and I heard from him more than seven hundred hadith."' Ar-Rabi' said, 'I heard ash-Shafi'i saying, "I carried away from Muhammad a camel-load of books."' 'Abdullah ibn 'Ali al-Madini said that his father said about Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, 'An utterly truthful man.'"
In Tahdhib al-Asma' waĆl-Lughat al-Khatib said:
"Muhammad was born in Wasit and grew up in Kufa. He heard hadith from Abu Hanifah, Mis'ar ibn Kidam, Sufyan ath-Thawri, 'Umar ibn Dharr and Malik ibn Maghul. He also wrote [hadith] from Malik ibn Anas, Rabi'ah ibn Salih, Bakir ibn 'Amir and Abu Yusuf. He lived in Baghdad and narrated hadith there. Ash-Shafi'i, al-Juzajani, Abu 'Ubayd and others narrated from him. Muhammad ibn Sa'd, the scribe of al-Waqidi, said, 'Muhammad's roots were in Jazirah. His father was in the army of Sham but he moved to Wasit and Muhammad was born to him there in 132 AH. He grew up in Kufa. He sought out hadith and heard a great deal. He sat with Abu Hanifah and heard from him. He looked into theory (ra'y)1 and it was the dominant element in him. He became known for it and became a leader in that field. He went to Baghdad and lived there. People repaired to him and heard both hadith and theory from him. He went to ar-Raqqah when Harun ar-Rashid was there and he appointed him as its qadi, but then later he removed him from office, so he went to Baghdad. When Harun ar-Rashid went to ar-Ray he told him to come with him and he died there in 189 AH."
Then al-Khatib narrated with a chain of transmission that ash-Shafi'i said, "Muhammad ibn al-Hasan said, 'I stood at Malik's door for three years and a bit.'" He said, "He used to say that he heard orally more than seven hundred hadith." When he narrated to people from Malik they filled his house, and there were so many people that the house was too small for them. He narrated with a chain of transmission that Isma'il ibn Hammad ibn Abi Hanifah said, "Muhammad used to sit in the mosque of Kufa [to teach] when he was twenty years old." With a chain of transmission there is that ash-Shafi'i said, "I have never seen a stout person more intelligent than Muhammad ibn al-Hasan." Also from him, "When engaged in a case, it was as if the Qur'an was descending; he would not move a letter forward nor put one back [i.e. he narrated verbatim]." Also from him, "Muhammad used to fill the eye and the heart." Also, "I carried away two Bactrian camel-loads of books from him." Yahya ibn Ma'in said, "I wrote al-Jami' as-Saghir from Muhammad ibn al-Hasan." Abu 'Ubayd said, "I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable of the Book of Allah than him." Ibrahim al-Harbi said, "I asked Ahmad, 'From where do you get these subtle fiqh cases?' He answered, 'From the books of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan.'" With a chain of transmission from Abu Raja' it is recorded that Mahmawiyah said, "We used to count him as one of the Abdal." He said, "I saw Muhammad ibn al-Hasan in my dreams and I said, 'Abu 'Abdullah! to what end have you come?' He said, 'My Lord said to me, "I did not make you a vessel of knowledge with the intention of punishing you."' I asked, 'What has become of Abu Yusuf?' He answered, 'He is above me.' I asked, 'And Abu Hanifah?' He answered, 'He is above him by many degrees.'" This abridgement [from al-Khatib] is concluded.
I say that by these statements which authoritative people have made, and other comments from trustworthy people which we have left out for fear of being lengthy, the majesty of his rank and his wonderful superiority are clear. Whoever casts aspersions on him cannot have heard these words and cannot have seen the books of the authoritative critics. The fact that ash-Shafi'i praised him with these well-proportioned expressions and gracious words, and the fact of his having narrated from him are proof enough. Ibn Taymiyyah in Minhaj as-Sunnah, which he wrote in refutation of Minhaj al-Karamah by al-Hilli the shi'ah, denied that ash-Shafi'i had been his pupil. However, those who had been before him, such as an-Nawawi, al-Khatib, as-Sam'ani and others showed that this was false, and they were more knowledgeable than he was about the state of their imam.
From Muwatta Imam Muhammad The Introduction of Shaykh Abd al-Hayy al-Luknawi